In box: readers’ letters

Random Thoughts

I’m a video student from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. I remember in one of my classes my teacher said, “I hate when students say they are filming’ when they have a video camera in their hand. What they are doing is taping’ or video taping.” And I agree with him and understand his logic. One day I was walking to class and wondered: What will be it called when everyone is using a camera that records to a memory card? Ha.

Robert J. Grauert, Jr.

We suppose they’d use the slang word news videographers use, “shooting”. Although we heard about a Hollywood director of photography who was on his way to film a new TV show and was pulled out of an airport security line when his answer to the question, “what are you doing with all this gear?” was, “I’m here to shoot a pilot.”

-The Editors

15 Minutes of Fame

I want to respond to your November 2007 editorial about internet video. While I agree that internet video lacks the technical attributes that make good video it is the video itself that makes it so popular. You quoted Andy Warhol “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”, I think this statement embodies the internet video spirit.

In my view the fact that the shot is wrong, the sound is bad, or some other technical issue doesn’t matter. What matters is that a “real” person made the video, someone perhaps not unlike myself. I think people enjoy great production on a subconscious level but it is the characters or story line that they are trying to relate to. I think those in Hollywood try very hard to make that mega movie star appear as ordinary as possible on screen so that the audience can relate to the story they are trying to tell.

With internet video there is no mega movie star, it is the kid down the street, or your neighbor next door, people you can relate to. I think you need an empathic story to drive what is on the screen, sure the technical delivery enhances that story, but if the story is worth telling people will overlook, or even embrace poor production value.

I think we tell stories to connect with our fellow humans, I think this practice is as old as time itself. Before the internet there was TV, before TV there was movies, before movies there was radio, before radio there was books, before that people sat around camp fires and told their stories to those around them.

The story is central, the more people relate to a story, the more popular it becomes, how it is told may vary but at its core is the human condition, and that is where we all meet to connect as people, and internet video is our level playing field, at least for the next 15 minutes.

Eric Cook

The Collective We Productions

Rainy Weather Audio Tip

I am looking for tips concerning protecting shotgun mics from rain. I live in SE Alaska where we get 120+ inches of rain/year. I have already fried one microphone. What can I do?

Jim Engell

Wow, Jim, that beats our wet stuff in Northern California… where we get manageable amounts of rain until recently, when we were inundated with wet 60-mph winds… but that’s another story. We pitched your question to our Audio columnist, Hal Robertson, for his expert advice, his comment follows.

-The Editors

Hi, Jim,

My preferred first line of defense is a good zeppelin and windsock. The pro models often have several layers of screen and/or fabric before water could get to the microphone. You can also treat the exterior fur with some ScotchGard spray fabric treatment. This is normally used for upholstery and carpet to repel water and stains, but it works for this application too. Just shake the zeppelin off periodically.

You can also cover the microphone directly with plastic or latex products – balloons, dry condoms, plastic wrap, etc. – but with two caveats: first, keep the material as thin a possible and use only one layer. Second, any treatment like this will certainly degrade your audio quality. Of course, a pint of water in your microphone will also degrade the quality 😉

Finally, don’t forget about the electronics. Mixers, wireless packs and anything with an audio connection should be covered or bagged to keep it dry. Ziploc bags are a quick and easy fix as are simple trash bags and those bags laying in your trunk from Mega-Lo-Mart.

When I was in broadcasting, we used to pack silicone grease (not glue!) into critical connectors that would be exposed to the elements. It was gooey and messy, but kept the rain and snow out. You can often find tubes of silicone grease at automotive supply stores. It is used to help insulate ignition wires.

Also, don’t forget to throw a few packets of Silica gel into your bag, to help absorb moisture. Most people throw these away when they open the boxes of new shoes, electronics and other purchases, but we at Videomaker like to keep them hanging around to help keep those few drops of rain out of our gear kits.

Hal Robertson

Videomaker’s Audio column contributing editor

Contact In Box

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